NGO report accuses Israel of promoting apartheid, persecuting Palestinians

The NGO Human Rights Watch published a report on Tuesday (27) accusing the State of Israel of having committed crimes of apartheid and persecution against Arabs and Palestinians, which, in international law, amounts to to crimes against humanity.

In the 200-page document, titled< Une limite dépassée: les autorités israéliennes et les crimes d'apartheid et de persécution >>, HRW points out the restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of Palestinians and the seizure of Palestinian land for the construction of Jewish settlements in the territories. occupied since the 1967 war as examples of the crimes committed.

“The Israeli authorities seek to maintain their domination over the Palestinians, exercising control over land and demography for the benefit of Israeli Jews,” the NGO said. “On this basis, the report concludes that the Israeli authorities have committed the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

HRW is based on the definitions of crimes established by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, 1973, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 1998.

According to these international treaties, the crime of apartheid consists of three main elements: the intention to maintain the domination of one group over another, a context of systematic oppression and the commission of inhumane acts. The crime of persecution, on the other hand, involves the intentional deprivation of fundamental rights, for discriminatory purposes, for reasons relating to the identity of a certain group or community.

“Denying millions of Palestinians basic rights, without legitimate security justification and just because they are Palestinians and non-Jews, is not simply a matter of abusive occupation,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of HRW.

“These policies, which grant Israeli Jews the same rights and privileges wherever they live, while discriminating against Palestinians at different levels wherever they live, reflect a policy of privileging one people over another.”

The report makes a series of recommendations to Israel, which include ending “ all forms of systematic oppression and discrimination that privilege Israeli Jews over Palestinians, full recognition of the human rights of Palestinians and ‘repeal of laws and legal provisions. Segregationist content.

To the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), HRW recommends the adoption of a strategy of activism focused on human rights and the end of activities, respectively. coordinated with the Israeli army.

The report also suggests that the international community reassess the nature of its engagement with Israel, subjecting, for example, the sale of arms, military assistance and cooperation agreements to “concrete and verifiable steps to end the practice. of these crimes “.

For Roth, much of the world still views the occupation by Israel, which has lasted for more than half a century, as a temporary situation, which a “peace process” will soon resolve, while the oppression of the Palestinians crossed the threshold of crimes against humanity.

“Those who strive for Israeli-Palestinian peace, whether for a one- or two-state or a confederacy solution, must recognize this reality for what it is and use the human rights tools necessary to end to this situation, “says the manager.

ANP chairman Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the report’s release and echoed some of HRW’s recommendations. “There is an urgent need for the international community to intervene, including ensuring that its states, organizations and businesses do not contribute in any way to the execution of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine.”

Israel’s foreign ministry, for its part, called the apartheid and persecution accusations “false and absurd” and attributed the publication of the report to an “anti-Israel agenda” in which HRW has allegedly participated for years. “promote boycotts. against Israel”.

In 2019, Omar Shakir, one of the directors of HRW and lead author of the report released on Tuesday, was kicked out of Israel for supporting BDS, a movement that advocates “boycott, divestment and sanctions” against the state. from Israel. Shakir denies it.

At Reuters news agency, the director said he would send his report to the prosecutor’s office of the International Criminal Court, “as we normally do when we come to conclusions on crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC. “.

In March, the agency’s attorney general, Fatou Bensouda, announced the opening of an official investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to her, the investigation will be conducted “with complete independence and objectivity” and will cover crimes allegedly committed – on both sides – since June 13, 2014 in the territory.

At the time, Israeli officials criticized the announcement. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the opening of the investigation reflected “the very essence of anti-Semitism and hypocrisy”, while the ANP called it “necessary and urgent” and is committed to providing “all necessary assistance” to the ICC.

In recent days, Israel has become the scene of a series of conflicts involving Jews, Palestinians and the country’s security forces. Palestinians, who had been barred from holding nightly meetings in areas near the entrances to Jerusalem’s Old City, were particularly provoked when a group of ultra-nationalists took a march last week, organized by the Jewish movement to far right Lahava, towards the Damascus Gate, chanting “death to the Arabs” and “death to the terrorists”.

There were clashes between the two groups and the police dispersed the protesters with tear gas canons and water cannons. The balance was at least 120 injured and 50 arrested. The 36 rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israel also interrupted months of relative calm at the border.

Netanyahu even called an emergency meeting and called for calm for all parties involved. However, the demand did not end the clashes, which were repeated in several neighborhoods in Jerusalem and in towns in the West Bank and along the border between Israel and Gaza.

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